Cortana: Microsoft’s Answer To Apple’s Siri

Whenever I think of Cortana, a sexily-designed, holographic assistant for Master Chief comes to mind. Though it may lack the feminine design of the character from the Halo Series, the general public will have their own Cortana of their own.

Microsoft has provided retaliation against Apple‘s Siri and Google Now in their voice interface assistant for Windows phone users. Ironically, it is named, or at least code named, Cortana. As reported by The Verge, the new assistant will be included in an upcoming Windows 8.1 update. It will take the form of a circular animated icon and animate when speaking or thinking, forming a personality similar to Siri. It will also allow Windows Phone users to set how they want to be addressed by the voice-activated assistant. This includes being called by their real name, or by nicknames such as “Master Chief”.

A extremely vital part of Cortana is its ability to save information and data in a Notebook system. This will allow the digital assistant to access information such as location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information. Cortana can also track flights or other mentions in emails, allowing it to generate notifications. This is very similar to Google Now.

Not much is known about Cortana except for what was given to The Verge. CNN Money did state in their report that the new assistant is a “mash-up” of their competitors. This can be taken as the best from both are combined, while the flaws of both are removed. Another major reason why Microsoft is giving very little on details is their work on the Halo franchise. Patrick Frye, of the Inquisitr, did report earlier that they might announce an episodic gaming/television hybrid for Halo 5 at E3 2014. So in short, they’re not just working on Cortana for us, but the one in video games too.

Although the initial Cortana digital assistant will have a lot of capabilities, it needs to be extended to third-party apps and other Windows and Xbox devices to improve functionality in the future. The real test of the digital assistant will be how well it works with voice commands such as understanding natural phrases and questions. The recent voice work with Xbox One is very good, quite impressive actually. However, a strict pattern of commands must be followed for it to work successfully. In the end, Cortana has to be at least as good as Siri to truly be competitive. If not, Microsoft’s answer to Siri may just become a gimmick.

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